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Showing posts from March, 2017

THE AIR ATTACK WARNING SOUNDS LIKE

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[Cover for "Protect and Survive" - 2016 reissue by Imperial War Museum] I count myself lucky that, while remaining vigilant, I live in a place and time that is relatively free of danger. However, seeing the pink, strikes and flared trousers in old videos or pictures of the late 1970s, you forget that the average middle-aged couple of the time would have grown up during the Second World War, then live through the ongoing Cold War between the USSR and the West, under the very small, but still possible, threat of a nuclear attack. You would hope there was plan in place if, or when, something happened - there was, but it had not been published. Previous examples of “civil defence” leaflets date back to 1938, when people needed advice on protecting their homes against air raids, but apart from some public information films in the early 1960s, nothing more was heard. Eventually, word got out that the Home Office had a booklet, already sent to official bodies, titled “Prote

DRAWN TO THE SORTA LIBRARY MAGIC

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I received my first library card when I was around five years old, spending many Saturday mornings at my local library through to my twenties. I started reading graphic novels there, discovered the Sociology section, and it my father introduced me to Spike Milligan and “The Goon Show,” using a cassette rented from there. However, my last visit there was because the nearby public toilet was being renovated. I can see why the visits became scarce: having a disposable income, buying my own copies of what I had read, and finding ever more information and media online and on demand. What may have finally done it was trying to rediscover some information I once found there before. I like looking at old programme listings for TV and radio stations: they are like a social document, showing how people used to entertain themselves, and what interests people had. Unless someone finds and puts the information you want online, you have to know where to go yourself and, for me, it was the

YOU GOTTA MAKE WAY FOR THE HOMO SUPERIOR

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We like to think we are “real,” or “authentic,” people, that we know what a good life is, and how it should be lead. Effectively, we know what a human being should be, but does that automatically mean we know what one is? I would worry if we could not answer that question. What we need is a human “holotype,” the term for a single physical example of an organism, usually the one used when that organism was described for the first time. Of course, there are many flies, butterflies and bacteria for which we have the holotype – for dinosaurs, it will be a particular fossil. The Natural History Museum is full of these, but they don’t have one for the species looking at them. Two “nominees” for the human holotype have previously appeared. The 18 th century Swedish botanist, zoologist and physicist Carl Linnaeus, but because he devised the system of “binomial nomenclature,” using Latin to delineate the genus and species of all living things, giving the title to the creator of the

AND I WON’T MENTION MY TEN THOUSAND HOURS IN TRAINING

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I own an alto saxophone, having written about the allure of them previously [ www.dancingwiththegatekeepers.com/2016/07/you-better-play-that-sax.html ], but I cannot yet play it. One day, I hope to play it like an artist uses a paintbrush, but I am aware of how much practice it will take to get there…   mainly because a number has now been put on it. The number ten thousand, to me, is a number that is “just about right,” a big enough number to be counted as a “big number.” If you were going on a TV game show, a jackpot of nine thousand pounds sounds like a big enough number, but TEN thousand... We do many things thousands of times in our lives, but if you can look someone in the face at the end of the day, and say you walked TEN THOUSAND STEPS that day, it sounds like an achievement. Likewise, if you can play the saxophone like Clarence Clemons or David Sanborn, it is because you spent as many as ten thousand hours practising: breaking that time down into a nine-to-five, fi

I CALL HER DOUBLE R, MY ROUGH RIDER

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More than any other car is “Range Rover” a badge of identity. Range Rover owners have chosen to make a statement about yourself, literally sitting them intimidatingly above the rest of the traffic, and in luxury putting them further above even the vans and buses. They never worry about the cost of fuel, and may never go off-road either. they want people to know they have a Range Rover, so it is already written on the front for you.   They own a Range Rover because they can afford one. If this sounds like you, I can only offer my congratulations. You may have always identified as a Range Rover driver before you could own one, or it could be something you have only recently recognised about yourself. Once you have accepted yourself, the rest of your life is ahead of you, and all you need to do is drive. Land Rover are doing their best to encourage Range Rover drivers to come out. Once the original Range Rover, launched in 1970, made driving a 4x4 vehicle as a regular car an a